Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda covering an area of 321 square kilometers and one of the ancient surviving tropical rain forests. Previously the area was renowned as impenetrable central forest reserve but later on, in 1991 it was expended and pronounced as a national park in the names of Bwindi impenetrable national park. Being a natural habitat for over 350 bird species and 310 tree species and ferns which provide a good bio-diversity ecosystem.
Standing at an altitude of 1,190 to 2,607 meters (3,904 to 8,553 ft) above sea level at the edge of the western rift valley and Annual mean temperature ranges from a minimum of 7 to 15 °C (45 to 59 °F) to a maximum of 20 to 27 °C (68 to 81 °F), the park is endured with a favorable ecological environment which led to its recognition of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The Afromontane vegetation in the area has therefore greatly contributed to the existence of several primates, birds, flora, and fauna which act as great attractions due to their uniqueness across the globe. The park, therefore, host half of the remaining world endangered mountain gorillas on an average of 650 gorillas with 480 mountain gorillas being habituated and open for visitors annually. It’s as well in this park where gold meets silver as you not only get to see mountain gorillas but as well these primates co-exist with chimpanzee which is quite unique from other areas. There as well 120 animal species that can be encountered in the forest, 348 bird species, 163 tree species, 104 fern species, and 1000 plant species all within the park. Therefore be assured of a great exploration once you choose Bwindi as your travel destination as there is plenty of activities and sightseeing as highlighted in our discussion.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Tourism Attractions
Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park is a popular tourist destination and a potential contributor to the tourism sector in Uganda under the conservation mandate of Uganda Wildlife Authority. With its generous attractions, there is quite a number of attractions that offer travelers a thrilling experience, and the chances of accomplishing your dream exploration stand at 95%. Some of these attractions are as follows;
Mountain gorilla trekking
Gorilla trekking experience is one of the most attractive attractions in Bwindi. The activity involves meeting the great gentle Apes in their natural habitat (jungle/forest) and each group visited per day visitors are limited to 8 people per trek however before trekking is reached upon the gorilla groups to be visited should have previously undergone what is termed as gorilla habituation exercise which takes between 2-3 years a process which involves teaching the primates how to relate to human beings in a non-violent way once you encounter them on the trek and this is done by experienced ranger guides coupled with a team of researchers.
Gorilla trekking in Bwindi is dated way back in 1993 when the first gorilla family was habituated and apparently there four different sectors that are open to visitors to enjoy the activity. Bwindi gorilla trekking sectors include; Buhoma in the north, Nkuringo in the south, Ruhija in the east, and Rushaga in the south. All these sectors have quite different gorilla groups which range between 7-10 with family members ranging between 5-25. Visitors who book for gorilla trekking are allowed to spend one hour with the primates in the jungle before returning back to the park headquarters. Within the prescribed hour you get to have a close encounter with the primates at a distance of 7 meters and you are allowed to as many questions to the guide, take notes, and plenty of pictures for your diary and storytelling back home.
Gorilla habituation is a process under which gorillas are taught how to relate to human beings once they encounter them and as well researchers as well get to learn how human being are entitled to react to these primates once they encounter them in the forest without violence through a process which lasts for 2-3 years. It’s upon this process that brought about the most outlined dos and don’ts shared to clients at park headquarters before proceeding for the search for the primates in the jungle. Apparently it’s only Uganda where you can enjoy gorilla habituation experience which is done in the southern part of the park in the Rushaga sector where two gorilla families are undergoing habituation process; Bikingi and Bushaho. This offers visitors extra hours with the primates on the trek where you are allowed to spend four hours with the primates and able to participate in different activities with the guidance of a researcher and an armed ranger guide. Both gorilla trekking and habituation can be tailor-made on your safari though this requires prior booking of about 4-5 months before your preferred travel dates to secure your availability since their permits are highly demanded and are sold on first come first serve basis.
Bird watching experience.
Bird watching is one of the activities that can be conducted in the park. Given the fact that some birds are seasonal in migration depending on the weather and thus the activity is mostly practiced especially during the rainy season. Bwindi has a population of over 347 species of forest birds recorded in the Park, at least 70 out of 78 montane forest bird species occurring in the Albertine Rift region are found in the forest, and 22 of the 36 endemic species in the area.
Uganda is the third Africa birding destination you will be blessed to encounter different species which include; the rare shoebill stork, green breasted Pitta, Dwarf Honeyguide, Fine-banded Woodpecker, African Green Broadbill, Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Shelly’s Greenbul, Yellow-streaked Greenbul Red-throated Alethe, Archer’s Robin-Chat and White-bellied Robin-Chat, African Wood Owl, Rwenzori Nightjar, Bar-tailed Trogon, Black Bee-eater, Western Green Tinkerbird among others.
Common designated birding areas in Bwindi include the Buhoma waterfall trail, the Mubwindi swamp trail in Ruhija, and the bamboo zone, and these trails are enjoyed in the month of March and September but note that birding is generally good throughout the year in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The other benefit of enjoying bird watching in Bwindi impenetrable national park is that you will have a chance to get close to witnessing the seven IUCN red data listed species of birds and as well you may catch a sight of mountain gorillas and other wildlife which makes your adventure a memorable one.
Another bird watching destinations in Uganda include; Mabamba Swamp which is famous for the rare shoebill stork, Kibale National Park with a variety of forest birds, Queen Elizabeth National Park hosts over 550 bird species in addition to the rich wildlife and Murchison Falls National Park is home to about 370 bird species
What you need for Bird Watching in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park;
- Comfortable hiking boots.
- Pack enough water and snacks.
- Warm clothing.
- Waterproof bags to protect your gadgets.
- Binoculars or telescopes.
Cultural encounter with Batwa pygmies.
Uganda has a very rich culture with diverse cultures, traditions, heritage, and history from pre-colonial to post-colonial periods across different regions of the country and thus an encounter to Batwa pygmies will take you through their history and ways of survival in the deep forest of Bwindi amidst the wild primates.
Batwa pygmies are believed to have been the” indigenous occupants to the mountain slopes of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. They are as well-referred to as “The Keepers of the forest”. Before they were evicted from the forest in the 1990s, it’s upon their eviction from the forest as conservation ways of the primates in the jungle that changed their ways of living with the scarcity of food and land to cultivate leading them to great poverty. Today, they are conservation refugees living outside the forest and their communities are one of the places visited by tourists to learn about their culture and traditional lifestyle.
Therefore on your encounter to this community, you will be thrilled as they will be able to display several skills, for example, they will demonstrate their amazing hunting techniques, gather honey techniques, they will show and explain the different medicinal plants and how they get cups out of bamboo stems as well as how they build their traditional grass-thatched huts. The women do most of the entertaining, they sing and dance for the visitors, they engage in income-generating activities like craft making to sell to the visitors and this was since the government forced them out of the forest.
An addition of Batwa trail exploration on your gorilla trekking experience is another way of directly supporting to development of their different initiatives since enjoying the trail goes with a certain cost which is charged to both the foreign nonresidents and the foreign residents pay a sum of $80 dollars, the East African residents pay Ug.shs.50’000 before you start the tour. This money goes to what is called the Batwa community fund for improved service delivery to the communities. Uganda is thus a hospitable country and thus your welcome to come for your adventure and interact with its natives at a more comfortable and friendly atmosphere on your safari.
Mountain biking in Bwindi
This is one of the new adventures introduced in Bwindi impenetrable national park in the Buhoma sector. It’s conducted by an organized group of women ‘Ride for a Woman’ community development initiative. The experience is aimed to create unforgettable cycling vacations. This slice of adventure is as well helpful in bridging the gap, relax, ride, and make meaningful connections with both the people and locations in the community. Their trails along Bwindi on a biking adventure can include cycling through the forest and as well through the community. Forest trails can take you through River Ivy which is a 13km trail and along the way, there is an opportunity to spot squirrels, monkeys (black-and-white colobus and red-tailed monkeys), mountain gorillas and chimpanzees occasionally, Having mountain biking as part of your optional adventure will take you through the exciting scenery of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which you wouldn’t have enjoyed physically while in the car which makes it very unique with the close sight of the landscape around and furthermore participating in this initiative is a direct way of supporting locally based projects within the community.
Hiking/ Nature Walk.
Bwindi has six adventure guided nature walks in the Buhoma sector which every visitor can participate in and takes you through the forest and communities around with exposure to various sites including waterfalls, primate encounters, mountain views, tranquil nature, and impressive birdlife. These trails pass through different areas and paths within the forest thus you can encounter different species on the walk. Rushura Hill Trail. This is a three-hour trail that takes you to the highest peak of Bwindi forest ‘Rushura Hill’ and on a clear day, you get a chance to view mountain Rwenzori and Congo border.
Upon this trail, visitors get to have a clear view of different community activities including the cultivated land with as well scenic views of the western rift valley and the adjacent Lake Edward. Waterfall Trail. this is a well a three-hour trail taking you to a waterfall in the center of the farmland were along the trail you can stop in the center of a Banana plantation and there is traditional brewing demonstration that uses Bananas and includes the distilling of one of the local gins made out of Bananas and as well tea plantations on the adjacent land which you can as well pick and travel with back home. Bamboo trail. At an altitude of 2,607m/8,550ft above the sea level at Rwamunyo forest, this trail requires patience and fitness since it takes 6 hours of a walk within the forest to reach the peak however it the path through the montane and bamboo forest vegetation is a fascinating one. Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail. This trail starts from Buhoma and ends in Nkuringo but takes you through attractive views of the misty hillsides as you climb the Hill towards Nkuringo.
River Ivi trail. This trail leads to the southern area of the national park and is mainly used by the local people when they going to local gardens and markets. The trail takes about 6 hours when following the old road in the forest. While in this trail, tourists are heartened to observe a lot like local people, monkeys, bush pigs, birds, and mountain gorillas, and many others. You can start your hiking in this trail either from Nkuringo or Buhoma depending on where you stay.
Habiyanja trail. This trail takes you through the forest where you get to cross Munyaga River and proceed with the hike to Habigorogoro and Riyovi ridges and at the top, you will be able to view Buhoma River.
Best time to visit Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The park experiences Afromontane climate and thus experiences two seasons; the dry and wet seasons but due to its altitudinal levers expect rain any time of the day even when its dry period which entails you to prepare for any weather changes and carry the right gear on your trip. Best time to visit is June to August and December to February with trails being drier and gorilla trekking is easier hence Peak season; June to September, the wet season include months of March to May and September to November where there is heavy rainfall and trails become hard to travel, low season.
The above nature walk trails are worth breathtaking and will lead you to an adventure of the entire Bwindi forest and surrounding communities leaving you with a lot of storytelling upon completion of the exploration than relying on yellow notes once you complete tour safari.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is apparently one of the leading tourists’ destinations on every traveler’s travel list due to the beautiful encounter to mountain gorillas and at a relative expense and more so the chances of encountering these primates in their natural habitat is 95% all year round compared to wildlife encounter experience but this should not overshadow other interesting activities that can be tailor-made on your safari to make your trip more interesting and worth storytelling. Contact Safari Vacation & Travel Services for your planned safari to East Africa in any of your country of interest and we shall handle all your inquiry in time and make necessary recommendation’s to help you make your dream come true. It will always be a pleasure to interact with you once you contact us for any inquiries.